Resume Tips Part I of III

Am I the only professional without a resume?

For those of you who, for whatever reason, have not needed an updated resume since your career began, all hope is not lost. Many times professionals have risen through the internal ranks and needed nothing more than internal referrals and applications. Jobs have come and gone, achievements have been logged, but nothing has been succinctly archived in a manner that would resemble a professional resume for an external application. Before you even contact a resume service, get to work collecting your information. Gather old job descriptions and job reviews. The descriptions will likely jog your memory on what you did, and the reviews should outline specific results. Resumes should detail jobs dating back seven to 10 years, so that’s your gauge for how far back you need to search and rebuild. Jobs prior to that should be listed or at least mentioned, but with less detail. Begin to build your content base. Keep in mind resume writers don’t need your content to arrive wrapped in a big red bow, but they aren’t mind readers so they do need the content to arrive. Gather your information and then reach out to find a resume service that seems to align with your approach and price range.

Who or what is the focus of my resume?

When writing your resume for a job search, the natural inclination is to focus on you and what you have done. Seems like the natural thing to do, but the focus isn’t right. You want to focus on your target audience, those people who will be reading your resume and whom you’d like to meet. As you read through potential job descriptions, make note of the common requirements, cultural elements, and special skill sets. You will begin to see a pattern and it will tell you what needs to be added or better emphasized in your resume. Of course you are the star of your own resume, but don’t make yourself the audience too. Make them entertained as they read that what you have done feeds directly into what they want their next hire to do.

Should I have multiple versions of my resume to match every application?

Only if you want to make your head spin every time you go to apply for a job. Build a strong resume that markets you as the professional you are, with all of your relevant experience and successes serving as evidence of your expertise. Approach the resume more from the perspective of what you have done and what you have to offer as opposed to the whims of every job description. If you do the former, you will likely offer more value than what the employers are looking for, but if you do the latter, your message will be limited. Most of the jobs you apply for will be looking for similar primary requirements and experience, all of which will be covered in your resume if it is a good, solid, market-driven resume. Use the cover letter for your adaptations to each specific application, drawing similarities between the employer’s core needs and your expertise. Job seekers who have multiple resume versions in their portfolio will inevitably send the wrong one, make unnecessary mistakes while making tedious last-minute changes, and last but most common, fail to make critical and necessary updates to each version. Before you know it, you can’t remember which one got the latest project addition and which ones didn’t. Get one good version of your resume and, being as how that’s your story, stick to it!